2013 Restaurant Week Kicks Off

It’s that time of year again when restaurants will post their prix-fixe menus outside and lure customers in with exciting dishes at great prices. In other words, it’s NYC Restaurant Week, or Restaurant Week(s) considering this event will last a full three weeks. This year over 300 restaurants in NYC are participating with either a $38 three-course dinner or a $25 three-course lunch. For some of the ‘trendiest’ restaurants in New York, these fixed prices can offer you a huge deal, as long you make a reservation in time.

Starting today, the 300+ restaurants will accept reservations for lunch and dinner, although some of the fancier restaurants offer lunch options only. The price of dinner has also increased this year, from $35 to $38, while lunch has increased by 93 cents. No doubt many of the participating restaurants campaigned to raise prix-fixe prices this year after serving low-tipping customers on an already marginally profitable meal.

Of course some hiccups can be expected in service with so many mouths to feed, so we recommend to customers to just enjoy a meal at a new restaurant and be understanding of the week’s demands. Of course we also recommend that you do your research before heading out to a restaurant. Some regular menus will clock in at about the same price at the prix-fixe, while other restaurants generally charge far more than they would for Restaurant Week. Of course the prix-fixe only accounts for your meal, and does not include drinks, tax and tip. Time to get on the phone and start making those reservations!

For a full list of participating restaurants, click here.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Join us this Saturday for a Lower Manhattan Food Crawl!

Although it’s been more than two weeks since Hurricane sandy hit the Northeast, many small businesses are still feeling the effects of the storm. Restaurants in particular rely on small margins to remain profitable in New York City. By closing their doors even for a few days many restaurants have lost their profits for an entire month or more. This Saturday, November 17th, Foodtoeat.com is holding a fundraising benefit for downtown Manhattan restaurants that lost business during the storm.

Starting at noon, 18 restaurants and bars in lower Manhattan will offer specials until 4 p.m. for all participants of the food crawl. Registration is just $10 and all proceeds from the event will go to participating restaurants. Join the FoodtoEat team beginning at Evelyn Drinkery to pick up a food crawl map, raffle tickets and purchase your registration if you haven’t already. Then follow the map and sample the discounted specials at each restaurant and bar until the final stop at Kafana restaurant. Stick around for the great raffle prizes, entertainment and interact with foodies all afternoon.

Purchase your tickets here and bring your appetite on Saturday! The full list of venues is listed below:

Cocktail Bodega
Continuum Coffee
Evelyn Drinkery
La Lucha
Mercadito
Mezetto
Prohibition Bakery
Proto Pizza
Sons of Essex
Common Ground
Idle Hands Bar
That Burger
Maharlika
Simone Martini Bar
Yaffa Cafe
Culture Fix
Cafecito
Royale Bar
Kafana

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Boston vs. New York Food Truck Throwdown

This Saturday some of the best food trucks from New York will compete against some of Boston’s finest trucks in the first ever Food Truck Throwdown. The competition will last the entire on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, and will feature seven food trucks from each city that were preselected by online voting.

The Food Truck Throwdown was dreamed up by Sara Ross, the owner of Boston food truck Kickass Cupcakes. From there Boston Mayor Thomas Menino supported it as well as the Boston food truck community. The food trucks from each city will serve food at the event and vie for the title of Best Food Truck. Admission to the event is free though guests will have to purchase all the food they eat.

“Given the rivalry between New York and Boston with sports, I thought New York was a natural choice for the inaugural event,” says Sara Ross. “And they responded to my invitation immediately with lots of enthusiasm.”

Throughout the day the trucks will compete in a series of contests to win the overall title as well as smaller wins in several categories. There will be a public ballot as well as celebrity judges, including Jenny Johnson from NECN’s Emmy award winning TV Diner with Billy Costa.

From New York some of the most popular food trucks will attending, including Bian Dang, Big D’s Grub, Fishing Shrimp, Mike N Willie’s, The Munchie Mobile, Nuchas and Wafels & Dinges.

The food trucks representing Boston will be Bon Me, Kickass Cupcakes, Lobsta Love, Mei Mei Street Kitchen, Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, Staff Meal and Cookie Monstah.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

2012 Vendy Awards, Recap & Winners

This Saturday the Street Vendor Project held the eighth annual Vendy Awards at Governor’s Island, featuring two dozen vendors from New York City nominated in several different categories by their biggest fans. Fortunately it was a beautiful day out, and about 1,500 people gathered at the event to feast and vote for their favorites.

Every year that I go to the Vendy’s I make a silent pact with myself to try something from every vendor. This pledge is much easier said than done, and I think I sampled about eight vendors before I sprawled on the grass in the middle of a debilitating food coma. But I’m pleased to say I tried food from several of the big winners, including Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food, a food truck from Brooklyn that took the top honors this year, winning the coveted Vendy Cup.

I started at Baby Got Back Ribs, a vendor nominated for the new Best in Market category and serving out of the Smorgasburg flea market in Brooklyn. These guys made two kinds of excellent ribs, a sweet and tangy flavor and a 21-seasoned dry rub variety. They served the ribs alongside a refreshing cole slaw and a hunk of corn bread. The meat was so tender that it just fell off the bone, and these ribs were an excellent way to kick off the day. They even served their own iced coffee with the meal, and kept us entertained with some light trivia.

I stopped by another Best in Market contender called Mayhem & Stout that operates out of DeKalb Market in Brooklyn. Mayhem & Stout specializes in pork sandwiches, and I tried their braised short rib and brisket, which was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. The short rib was ridiculously tender, and was paired with Blueberry Sriracha and Pickled Vidalia Onions, combining to provide an out of this world flavor.

I passed by some of my favorite food trucks, but I was on a quest to eat from the ones I had never seen before. Okadaman’s Japanese pancakes are some of my favorites, and Uncle Gussy’s and Phil’s Steaks are regulars in Midtown, Manhattan that usually end up in my weekly lunch schedule. At last I found the sought after Lumpia Shack, serving Filipino inspired spring rolls. I tried their Peking duck roll and a mushroom and truffle roll. There’s a reason Lumpia won the best in Market category, these rolls were packed with flavor. The duck roll was rich, savory and fried to a perfect crisp and complemented by a tangy sauce on top. When it comes to truffles I don’t think there’s a way to wrong, and this roll was by far the best vegetarian dish I ate all day.

Rounding out the Best in Market vendors, I was drawn to Pestle & Mortar by their elaborate lobster shell display around their ceviche. For anyone who has never had ceviche, it’s a popular seafood dish from South America made from raw seafood marinated in citrus juice and spiced with a variety of seasonings. Pestle & Mortar’s ceviche was made from shrimp and lobster, marinated in citrus and served with fresh chunks of mango in a small cup with a crisp dipping chip. The ceviche was so good I actually came back for several more helpings; one man in front of me even took a pint home at the end. The ceviche was fresh and perfect for the weather. All of the Best in Market nominees I ate from were outstanding, and the Vendy Awards made a great decision in opening this category.

Among the other vendors I had a chance to eat from was Xin Jiang Prosperity Kebabs, a food cart from Chinatown nominated for the Vendy Cup. The lamb kebab was another winner, succulent and perfectly seasoned; a perfect match with Brooklyn Brewery’s India Pale Ale. People’s Choice winners Cinnamon Snail served huge portions of vegan sliders and a mushroom dish, as well as their signature donuts and a vegan Twinkie. Fun Buns served a delicious Asian pork bun that made me wonder why I hadn’t eaten at this cart yet. Finally I had my last full meal from Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food, three tacos and a selection of four different salsas. The salsas are really what made Piaztlan stand out, the red tomatillo salsa had a perfect kick to it, and the green tomatillo avocado salsa was rich and savory. As someone else at the Vendy’s commented, each salsa made Piaztlan’s tacos taste different, so customers could make the perfect taco to suit their tastes.

Too full to try most of the desserts, I sampled Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwich’s new Bushmills flavored ice cream they created. The candied bacon variety was really addicting; I didn’t think it tasted like bacon or whiskey, which was fine with me. The edible wrappers they provide always give an added incentive to eat their ice cream. Monsieur Singh Lassi was the only other dessert I managed to try; they created Indian style Lassi ice pops. Their mango ice pop was creamy and delicious; even though it was so cold it stuck to my tongue when I got it.

Although I couldn’t possibly eat from every vendor I wanted to, a big shout out goes to the winners of the awards, and a thank you as well for providing such amazing food and standing up for every vendor’s rights as well. I will definitely be back next year, with a whole new set of eating goals.

Winner, Vendy Cup: Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food

Winner, People Choice: Cinnamon Snail

Winner, Most Heroic Vendor: Sammy Kassem

Winner, Best Rookie Vendor: Phil’s Steaks

Winner, Best Dessert: Melt Bakery

Winner, Best in Market: Lumpia Shack

Countdown to the 2012 Vendy Awards

The New York City Vendy Awards will be held tomorrow, September 15th at Governor’s Island. The Vendy Awards are an annual tasting and award ceremony for some of New York City’s best food trucks and carts. The event is sponsored by our friends at the Street Vendor Project and works to shed light on new and upcoming vendors, and raise awareness for the rights of small business owners.

This year the Vendy nominees will fall into several categories from last year, and one new one. The new category is called “Best in Market”, which acts to represent street vendors that sell their goods at street fairs and outdoor markets. This new breed of vendor tends to use locally sourced ingredients and classic techniques, and was heavily supported by the voting public during nominations this year.

Last year the Vendy’s created a new category called “Most Heroic Vendor” to support those that stood up for their community. This year the Most Heroic Vendor is Sammy Kasem, a halal food vendor in Bay Ridge Brooklyn who faced opposition from several brick-and-mortar restaurants. These restaurant owners tried kicking him out of his spot, nailing park benches down to keep his cart out, and threatened and harassed him. Instead of giving up Sammy has continued to fight for his right to make a living in this community.

In the other five categories a wide variety of known and more obscure trucks have been nominated. In the Best Dessert category, Coolhaus Ice Cream sandwiches and Andy’s Italian Ices have been nominated, both members of the New York City Food Truck Association, and well known throughout New York City. Coolhaus originates from California, and is homage to architectural design by using cookies and plenty of flavors of ice cream. Andy’s has the same idea with over 45 flavors of water and crème ices, as well as an espresso bar.

For Best Rookie Vendor our friends at Okadaman and Phil’s Steak’s were nominated, as well as Chinese Mirch, Morocho Peruvian Cuisine, and Cambodian Cusine Torsu. Okadaman is a Japanese food truck serving Osaka-style street food like their iconic Japanese pancake. Phil’s Steaks serves traditional Philly cheese steaks, and is always a huge hit at events.

In the new Best in Market category, Baby Got Back Ribs from the Smorgasborg Flea Market in Brooklyn was nominated, as well as Lumpia Shack. Baby Got Back Ribs uses a 21-seasoning flavoring to make their signature ribs. Lumpia serves Filipino-inspired spring rolls in Brooklyn, and aims to bring Filipino cuisine to the whole world.

In the main category, the Vendy Cup, six vendors have been nominated with a huge variety of tastes. Our friends at the Cinnamon Snail serve vegan food from their ornate burgundy-colored food truck; their Makers Mark donuts last year were a huge hit and took home the Vendy Award. Long-time vendor Uncle Gussy has also been nominated, a signature Greek food truck that keeps cooking all in the family.

We’re thrilled for all the vendors nominated for Vendy Award’s this year, and this event should provide each vendor with publicity and raise awareness for the service they provide to New Yorkers. Check in Monday to see a full recap of the day’s events.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Snap Truck BBQ Kick Off

Aside from providing food, food trucks have a unique ability to turn any outdoor event into a genuine party. When food trucks roll up anywhere, people invariably turn up to the event for great food, music and an open outdoor eating experience. That’s why this Labor Day the place to be is at Snap Truck’s Labor Day BBQ in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Snap is a new gourmet hot dog and hamburger truck with some inspired menu items, like their unique avocado fries and their delicious Belgian fries. The truck will be hosting this event on Monday to kick off its new location in Red Hook, along with Vendy award nominated La Newyorkina, which makes Mexican ice pops in delicious flavors like horchata and mango-chili. In addition to these food vendors Out of My Mind Vintage will be selling clothing and accessories at discount prices.

The barbecue takes place from noon to 6pm in the Red Hook lot at 100 Sullivan Street. Snap’s food all has a focus on local and organic ingredients, and the truck even operates with sustainability in mind using recycled cooking oil from the deep fryer to power the truck. Snap will begin delivering from this location September 10th, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

If you live or work nearby Red Hook, you can order online from Snap Truck for delivery or pickup up from FoodtoEat.com. During the week the truck accepts pre-orders at Hudson Square and Long Island City food truck lots Wednesday through Friday.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

A Restaurant Owner’s Perspective of Restaurant week

New York City’s Restaurant Week kicked off this Monday, July 16th, and scores of the city’s top restaurants have created their prix-fixed menus to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this event. This is the first year that Restaurant Week will actually last a full month, all the way until August 10th. Those looking to dine at any participating restaurants can expect three courses for $24.07 for lunch and $35 for dinner.

While restaurant week can be a great experience for those without huge budgets to sample cuisine from New York’s finest restaurants at a moderate price, it puts restaurants in a sort of frenzy to please customers at lightning speed and still somehow turn a profit with the low prix-fixed meals they are serving. However one restaurant owner has a unique perspective towards restaurant week, viewing it more as a service from the restaurant community at large.

Alex Guarnaschelli is the chef and owner of Butter, and despite the difficulties Butter faces every year when this week comes around, she views it as a priority for her restaurant to make great food affordable to more people. Because of this philosophy, Butter has had Restaurant Week menus for the past eight years.

“Part of my commitment to Restaurant Week is because I don’t think it’s fair, for financial reasons, to end up excluding people from having a fun dining experience. I really don’t. I feel passionately about that. I mean, we’ve done Restaurant Week for eight years with Butter, and I would never not do it. It’s torture for the staff, it’s such work and it’s so hard. It’s like bailing water out of a boat 24/7. But it gives us a chance to remind us about hospitality, and the idea that people come to a restaurant to eat. Like, that basic idea that’s so easy to get away from is important to me. Restaurant Week is a nice kick-in-the-ass reminder of that; to me…I think it’s great for students, too. It’s a good student budget thing. You pick two or three or whatever, and you have a number of weeks to go, and one of those every week or two is something you can manage.”

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

LA Street Food at its Finest

Next Saturday, July 21st, The LA Street Food Fest will attract local foodies from all over the city to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. This event began 3 years ago as an attempt to promote the growth of local food vendors, and it quickly took off as a tasting event that now takes place every summer.

The Rose Bowl is set up for customers to enjoy their evening picnicking on the field while they are surrounded by over 75 food trucks, food carts, restaurants, and chefs displaying their culinary talents under tents. Ice cream and drinks will top off a wholesome meal. Families will be entertained by a live DJ and kid-friendly games as well. Tickets are being sold for $45 and include all of the food, drinks, and entertainment offered there.

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Some of the popular gourmet food trucks that will be serving the crowds include the Fox Pizza Bus, Waffles de Liege, and Kogi BBQ. Fifteen vendors will hand out their delicious sweet treats at the ice cream social tent, including the famous Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches (I’ve had two of their homemade cookie-ice cream combinations so far in New York, and I just can’t resist going back every time I see the truck).

A cook-off is held every year at this food festival among the chefs, food trucks, and food carts that display their newest creations to the public. A set of judges sample the menu of each vendor, and they ultimately decide the winners in the following categories: Best in Show, Best Old School Street Food, Best Nouveau Street Food, Best Original Showmanship, and The Sweet Tooth. A People’s Choice Award is also given to the chef or vendor that serves the overall favorite dish among the attendees. Last year, the judges of the Annual Summer Tasting competition included Antonio Villaraigosa, current mayor of Los Angeles, and Chef Michael Voltaggio, winner of Top Chef Season 7.

Food lovers should definitely attend this festival to take advantage of the huge variety of foods and drinks offered in one setting. It makes a perfect evening out with family and friends. So if you’re a resident of LA, or even if you’re flying out there to visit anytime soon, be sure to attend the LA Street Food Fest and eat your heart out!

Deep Ellum Food Truck Festival Hits Dallas/Fort Worth

Blogged by: Anjali Kapur

Last Friday, the Deep Ellum Food Truck Rally began with a galore of food trucks popular among locals of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The food trucks were parked side by side on Main St. serving gourmet meals to the public on an expectedly warm summer night. A variety of cuisines were featured by food trucks including Nammi, Rock and Roll Taco, Easy Slider, Good Karma Kitchen, Zombie’s, Gepetto’s Pizza, and Rockstar Bakeshop.

Nammi is a unique food truck serving Vietnamese Fusion food. They are known for their bahn mi, a hefty 12-inch grilled pork sandwich on soft baguette bread with garlic mayo, pickled daikon, and jalapenos. Zombie’s food truck drew in vegan eaters in the area with dishes like the Buffalo Joe and Seoul Survivor. To top off a wholesome meal with delicious sweet treats, the Rockstar Bakeshop served their famous whoopie pies out of their truck (fun fact: the truck’s name is “Layla”). Every flavor on their regular menu is named after a classic rock song — “American Pie,” “Smoke on the Water,” and “Sweet Caroline” to name a few. This mobile bakery makes creative combinations of moist cake and creamy frosting to make delectable whoopie pies that have become extremely popular in just a few months.

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In recent months, the food truck trend in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has grown tremendously. Several owners have obtained licenses because the overall cost of starting a food truck is cheaper than opening a restaurant. With the deluge of new food trucks pouring into the business, several lots are being created to solve the parking issues that both customers and food truck owners face on the streets. These parks will be home to several food trucks that can serve their food at a fixed location on a regular basis. The competition between food truck parks is expected to increase in the coming months as the street food trend continues to grow.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

 

Baltimore Takes Home the Trophy at ‘A Taste of Two Cities’

Saturday’s epic faceoff between Baltimore and Washington D.C. food trucks, entitled ‘A Taste of Two Cities’ ended with Baltimore taking the top honors. The weather was perfect on Saturday, and the event was a huge success for both cities that participated and for all those who attended the event.

Baltimore’s Gypsy Queen Café went home with the top honors from this competition, a food truck specializing in gourmet sandwiches, burgers and tacos, including a crab cake taco that I would wait a very long time in those lines to try. Souper Freak, serving cold soups such as Japanese edamame vichyssoise won the Baltimore People’s Choice award, and The Cajunator won the award for D.C. Washington’s Red Hook Lobster took second place, and Baltimore’s Miss Shirley’s got third.

There was a definite spirit of cooperation between the two cities at the Westport Waterfront in Maryland on Saturday. Three dozen trucks attended the event in all, armed with the knowledge that pleasing their respective cities and uniting would help them all get closer to getting what they need.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a self-proclaimed food truck supporter, attended on Saturday as well. “When you see an event like this that brings two cities together in the spirit of friendly competition it makes me feel that I made the right decision in supporting the food trucks. Food trucks really speak to the personality of the city.”

Organizers estimated that about 5,000 people came through to the event by 4 p.m., and about 12,000 in all by the end of the day. Pre-Baseball partiers made up a large part of the crowd, and given the success of the event it will be held again next year. Until then, Baltimore reigns as the champion, and the Winner’s Cup will remain there until the next face-off.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com